Yeah, my sponsor and I were able to meet yesterday on the phone and have scheduled a better time for the two of us on Sunday’s at 3:00 MST. I’m excited to work on the next phase of the steps and look forward to this coming week in recovery.
Brandon gave me the step work after our meeting and it was really interesting to go over it briefly. What I really like is ARP Support has taken the LDS 12 Step Addiction Recovery manual and has seemed to break it down a bit more, adding questions for each day that really help dig deeper into the why, when, how and other factors. I think this is so crucial to really understand what’s happening and how I can work with God to submit my will to Him.
Here is the first day’s work:
Day 8 – Step Work
Many of us began our addictions out of curiosity. Some of us became involved because of a justifiable need for a prescription drug or as an act of deliberate rebellion. Many began this path when barely older than children. Whatever our motive for starting and our circumstances, we soon discovered that the addiction relieved more than just physical pain. It provided stimulation or numbed painful feelings or moods. It helped us avoid the problems we faced— or so we thought. For a while, we felt free of fear, worry, loneliness, discouragement, regret, or boredom. But because life is full of the conditions that prompt these kinds of feelings, we resorted to our addictions more and more often. Still, most of us failed to recognize or admit that we had lost the ability to resist and abstain on our own. As Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve observed: “Addiction surrenders later freedom to choose. Through chemical means, one can literally become disconnected from his or her own will” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 7; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 7).
Describe how you got started in your addiction.
I think there are a few factors that contributed to me getting started in my addiction. When I was a kid, I was really active and never wanted to stop and take the time to go to the bathroom. I would hold it for as long as I could and sometimes even pee my pants. I remember being in elementary school and leaning on my desk as a way to hold it. Over time, this started feeling good. I later realized that after I went to the bathroom, if I leaned against the sink or something, it also felt good.
I remember being in the elementary school and having gone to the bathroom during class. After I went to the bathroom, I leaned against the bathroom sink and it felt really good, so good that I actually ejaculated in my pants.
The interesting thing was, as I look back, I didn’t have any real idea what this was, nor did I talk to my mom or dad about it later that day. I don’t know that I even thought too much about it.
However, this became a habit I got into at home, at my grandparents house, and other places. I would go into the bathroom and then be in there for quite some time. There wasn’t ever pornography at this point, it was masturbation in a different form.
Later in elementary I remember a kid in my class having brought a magazine to school. A few of the guys in our peer group looked at it and this may have started the curiosity regarding pornography.
I also remember going to gas stations and knowing where the adult magazines were hidden. Although I never got one or opened one there, it was always something I was aware of as a kid. This same thing would happen at the video store: I knew where the adult section was and would try to sneak back there to get a peak, again, never seeing anything that I can remember but being curious.
I don’t know that my parents ever saw me or suspected anything; it was something I kept hidden.
As I got a bit older, I would occasionally go to my cousins house who was the same age as me. A few times I remember watching TV with him later at night (they had HBO, Cinemax, etc.). I remember seeing a few shows that were definitely pornographic. This definitely contributed to my addiction too.
I would also watch MTV a lot at my house. Some of the videos were definitely pornographic although they were “edited.”
How old were you when you started?
I think I was in the 5th or 6th grade when this stuff all started.
What did your addiction provide for you physically and emotionally?
Physically it was a feeling I looked forward to. It was something I liked. I honestly didn’t even know what it was until maybe I was 12. I went to my interview to get the Aaronic Priesthood and I remember the counselor asking me the list of questions. At the end of the interview, as I recall, he asked if I had ever masturbated. I wasn’t sure 100% what that was so I said no right away. But I remember distinctly feeling at that time that I had a problem of some sort or that I had lied to him and to myself.
Again, I didn’t talk to my parents about this and it didn’t come up again, that I can remember, while I was in that ward.
I’m not sure what it provided for me emotionally. I remember my parents fighting a lot when I was a kid. I remember being afraid they were going to get a divorce sometimes. I wonder if part of the reason I would “hide” in the bathroom was because of what they were saying to one another. I wonder if it was my way of coping with their anger and resentment toward one another.
I also have realized that being the only child was a bit of stress. My dad would always call me his “perfect son” and my mom would always talk to people about how good I was doing or whatever. I don’t want to blame them at all, but I do feel these actions caused me to feel a lot of pressure to be “perfect.” This would definitely contribute to me not ever wanting to talk to them about any of my mistakes for fear I’d be letting them down or disappointing them.
How did you use it to avoid your problems?
Doing these things was a way of hiding. It was a quick fix as a way to feel “accepted.” I don’t know that I was using it a lot back then as a way to avoid problems, but, as I mentioned earlier, this may have been a way to cope with the pain of my parents fighting from time to time.
Since then I’ve definitely used it as a way to avoid pain of fear, the unknown, or lack of connection that I thought I was feeling.
Did you find yourself resorting to your addiction more and more often? Describe how this changed over time.
Yes, definitely. I’m pretty sure this happened quite a bit as a kid. Again, no one ever confronted me or talked to me about it. I believe my mom caught me once but I can’t remember her ever really saying anything to me or discussing what was going on.
Eventually, the masturbation wasn’t enough. I started finding things to look at, including TV, the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated, and other pornographic materials. This was all in about 8th grade. By this time, I recognized I had a problem and I may have even talked to my Bishop about the masturbation issues.
However, pornography never came up in any discussions with my Bishop throughout my teenage years. I don’t know if this was because I was hiding it or if it was because I was never asked about it, or maybe both.
Did you fail to recognize or admit that you had lost the ability to abstain on your own?
Yes. I don’t think the word “addiction” was ever talked about or maybe even considered. I don’t know that I ever recognized that I couldn’t stop, although I know that I went to the Bishop quite a few times, talked about it, was frustrated, and wanted to stop. I don’t recall much of the advice he gave me other than to do my best to not keep doing whatever I was doing.
That was my work on the first step for today. It’s crazy to think about where I was back when this all started. It’s crazy to think about how addiction or talking to my parents was ever brought up.
I don’t blame anyone but myself for this, but I hope as we raise our kids, I don’t let history repeat itself.
It’s about 10:30 a.m. now so I’ll do additional study later today.